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Case 13: Collecting Roman Sculpture

Collecting Roman Antiquity

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Lid of an Etruscan funerary urn

Ancient funerary sculpture was widely collected. This particular example is unusual because it is Etruscan, not a 'Classical'-style piece from Rome or Greece. It is the lid of a box to hold cremated remains (cinerarium). The reclining man represents the dead person, and his face may be an idealised portrait. he is dressed as a banqueter, wearing a wreath and holding a dish. This association between banquesting and death is often seen on wall-paintings in Etruscan tombs.

Production place: Volterra, Etruria, Italy
Date: around  250–100 BC
Find spot: Volterra, Italy
Given by Disney, John, Dr

Object Number: GR.49a.1850

see the online collections database

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Head of a sphinx: A search for the ancient 'original

This head and GR.18.1850 are of Roman date, but were based on a Greek statue of the sphinx. This winged monster with a woman's head and lion's body was a common decoration on Greek graves. The style of these two heads and other surviving versions suggest that the original sphinx dated to about 450 BC, over three hundred years before the Roman heads were made. It was already understood early in thhe 18th century that statues like these were Roman, and not Greek. Although some early collectors valued such pieces as examples of Roman art, many saw them as copies of Greek works and a way of glimpsing the 'genius' of the original Greek craftsman. Today it is understood that the Romans were creatively adapting, rather than simply copying.

Production place: Italy
Date: around  100 BC
Bequeathed by Shannon, C.H.
Ricketts and Shannon Collection

Object Number: GR.96.1937

see the online collections database

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